Monday, September 28, 2009

It scares me.

I admit it. There are some things in this world that scare me. I'm not talking about the momentary shake-up when someone runs a red light in front of me, or when I trip while running up the stairs in my classroom building.

I'm talking about real fear, as in, "I don't know how we're gonna get out of this safely" fear.

Achmedinejad scares me in that way. Him and the mullahs. I think the people of Iran are mostly good people, from what I've read they mostly want more freedom than what they've been given. But the leadership of Iran scares me. Just like Kim Jong-Il scares me (Even though he may be very sick and be replaced soon, still, I think there's no shortage of would-be tyrants in the NK Communist party).

Gaddafi scares me a little too, but more in the way that I'm scared and put off when I'm traveling somewhere in a city and an obviously crazy person accosts me on the street, yelling gibberish and waving their arms. Gaddafi is a bad dude, but I get the feeling his star's waning - that he's maybe on the way out in the next few years (and may a better man replace him).

But what's going on in Iran - it scares me in a way similar to how I felt shortly after September 11, an almost existential fear. It catches me at times, I find myself thinking, "Why am I bothering to teach my students how to do a t-test or about population dynamics? The world's going to end, like, next month, and it just doesn't matter."

But I don't know anything else to do, and I can't let the mask of sanity slip, so I keep on teaching, even though at times it feels like I'm doing so on the bridge of the Titanic, with the iceberg in sight.

I know, I know, as a Christian I should not be afraid, that ultimately everything is going to be all right - but that "ultimately" might mean "after I'm dead," and I'm scared of what might happen leading up to that.

In church yesterday we sang "A Mighty Fortress is Our God." (Interesting - the usual song-leader, who comes from a Baptist background, is out on medical leave and I think the person who is the song-leader right now is a former Lutheran. It would stand to reason*)

(*In my congregation we seem to have a lot of "former whatevers" and not as many born-into-it Disciples as most Disciples congregations)

And this verse struck me:

And though this world, with devils filled,
should threaten to undo us,
we will not fear, for God hath willed
his truth to triumph through us.

The challenge as I see it is not to be "undone" - I don't mean undone in a moral sense, I interpreted it on that reading as "undone" as in a giving-up sense, as in a since of "I don't see how things are going to get any better." And I admit, these days, I come perilously close to being "undone" in that way. A lot of the hope I used to have for future improvement of the world is slowly draining away.

I don't want to go back to a Medieval concept though, where this life is something merely to be endured, and the only hope we have is in the next life. I don't like feeling like we can't DO anything while we're here, that it's just going to get worse.

I never agreed with the "Rapture" philosophy that some Christians follow - that the righteous will be taken up and "disappear" (years and years ago, when I briefly attended a Baptist church, I remember literature claiming it had already happened, because allegedly some people had gone missing) and then the world is going to be plunged into years of horribleness - for what purpose? I'm sure there's a good one but the God I believe in, I can't see Him doing that, even to unbelievers.

So I don't know. I hope the Iranian people rise up and overthrow Achmedinejad and the mullahs and establish some kind of more "friendly" government there. Or I hope that somehow the nuke program is shut down. Or something.

I'm a kid of the Cold War; my dad actually had a fallout shelter in our basement when I was growing up. (And I admit, at one point, when I was a teenager, I realized: if they drop the bomb, do I REALLY want to be one of the survivors? Wouldn't it be better to die quickly than to face a future of a lawless, no-civilization world, where if I DIDN'T die a slow horrible death of radiation-exposure-caused cancer, I'd be expected to pop out lots of children to repopulate?

I don't know. I realize it's excessively "soft" of me to say this but I am not sure I would want to live in a world where civilization had gone away, where food was what you could grow or catch or steal from your neighbor, where there was no comfort, no music, no relaxation. Where people like me - a single woman far from family - would be especially vulnerable and would have to trust and band with some other people just in order to stay alive.

And that's why what's going on in the world scares me, and does threaten to undo me a little...

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